netSHIELD is an evaluation expansion board with Arduino compatible connectors for development purposes.

It enables the user to connect a Microcontroller based application to all market relevant Real-Time-Ethernet industrial networks with best-in-class real time capabilities, like PROFINET, Ethernet/IP, EtherCAT and others.

The extension board features a netX 52 system on chip. The netX SoC architecture is designed from the ground up for the highest demands on flexibility, determinism and performance in terms of multi-protocol capability and low latency for short cycle times. The heterogeneous multi-core architecture features an ARM processor core, coupled with a flexible communication subsystem (xC) for varieties of industrial applications support.

The communication subsystem, i.e. the Protocol Stack, runs completely independent on the netX SoC and requires only small memory and very limited CPU resources from the host microcontroller. A protocol specific firmware image for the netX network controller is stored in a serial flash memory.


Software and documentation for netSHIELD can be found under this link.

Key Features

  • Host Microcontroller connected via SPI to the netX system on chip
  • one hardware for all industrial real time ethernet systems
  • Supports the following protocols: PROFINET IRT and RT Device, EtherCAT Slave ,Ethernet/IP Adapter, POWERLINK Controlled Node, Sercos III Slave, Modbus/TCP Client/Server
  • two RJ45 ports with real time ethernet switch for line and ring topologies
  • power supply via Mini-USB connector
  • reset button
  • bootmode jumper
  • netX firmware flash programming via USB
  • netX protocol stack firmware available as free download for evaluation
  • host software examples available

Technical details

ProcessornetX 52
Onboard Memory8 MByte SDRAM
4 MByte Quad SPI Flash
Power supply5 V DC via USB, 300 mA current via Mini-B USB
Host interfaceSerial dual-port memory interface via SPI 1x 6-pin, 2x 8-pin and
1x 10-pin male header strips (Arduino™ Uno compatible)
Communication interface2x RJ45 Ethernet 100 BASE-TX
Operating elementsPower-on reset push-button
Boot mode configuration jumper
MountingPlug-on module, no soldering or screws necessary
LEDSYS: system status
COM0: communication status (RTE)
COM1: communications status (RTE)
LINK TX/RX for Ethernet channel 0 (at RJ45)
LINK TX/RX for Ethernet channel 1 (at RJ45)
Diagnostic InterfaceMini-B USB for voltage supply, configuration and diagnosis
Dimensions (H x W x L)53 x 49 x 23.2 mm
Operating temperature0 … +30 °C
ProtocolsPROFINET, EtherCAT, EtherNet/IP, others on request

This product serves for test- and education- / teaching purposes for industrial applications and controls. Every liability is excluded with industrial use.

STM32Cube Expansion

The I-CUBE-NETX Software Expansion contains a middleware API component, called cifX API (links to Hilscher Knowledge Base). It eases access to a netX companion chip for Real Time Ethernet protocols.

The cifX middleware component API is internally based on a generic cifX Toolkit (links to Hilscher Knowledge Base). 

The netX system on chip operates as an independent and flexible communication controller, beside the STM32 host Microcontroller. Industrial protocols like PROFINET, EtherCAT, Ethernet/IP, POWERLINK, Sercos III, and many others are supported by different netX firmware binaries, stored in a serial flash.

Data exchange between the STM32 application MCU and the netX protocol execution controller is performed via a dual port memory. Both chips are physically connected by a serial (SPI) or flexible parallel interface.

This STM32Cube Expansion features API functions to exchange cyclic process data between the network and the application, as well as acyclic mailbox packets.

Related Links:
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Overview STM32 Microcontrollers

Overview STM32 Nucleo evaluation boards

Overview STM32Cube expansions


The STM32Cube Expansion Software and documentation can be found under this link.

Key Features

  • Generic API for all Protocol Stacks from Hilscher
  • Application examples for PROFINET, Ethernet/IP and EtherCAT
  • Requires a netX companion chip beside the STM32 Microcontroller
  • two RJ45 ports with real time ethernet switch for line and ring topologies
  • power supply via Mini-USB connector


All downloads can be found in the Hilscher Knowledge Base under this link